INSPIRED IMPACT™ is an ongoing blog series that gives voice to social entrepreneurs and leaders of purpose-driven organizations who are making an impact in their communities, industries, and around the world.
WHAT DO YOU DO?
We use the creativity, empathy, and courageousness of people living with a brain condition to find the best ways to support and encourage each other to live openly.
WHY DO YOU DO IT?
We have heard a similar story over and over again. A talented young person with a bright future ahead of them suddenly takes their own life. Suicide is the second leading cause of death for young Americans, and it is almost always avoidable. With treatment, 80% to 90% of people with a brain condition will live long, meaningful lives, but people are very often too ashamed to seek treatment.
WHAT IMPACT ARE YOU MAKING?
We are giving people living with a brain condition an opportunity to understand and take pride in their condition through shared experiences with others who deal with similar conditions. We give people an alternative to the stereotyped mentally ill people performing violent and terrible acts by sharing our experiences and showing that for every one of them there are thousands of others living with a brain condition who are nothing like that.
WHAT (OR WHO) INSPIRES YOU TO MAKE THIS IMPACT?
Every person who struggles or thrives with a brain condition in silence. We have seen firsthand that our community is more than a band of sick and broken people huddled together trying to survive. We are creative, empathetic, brilliant minds with incredible fortitude that work in new and different ways. We are inspired by the neuro-divergent minds that have changed our world like Marilyn Monroe, Abraham Lincoln, and Vincent Van Gogh, and the minds we lose every day alike.
WHAT’S YOUR BIG DREAM FOR THE ORGANIZATION AND THE IMPACT YOU WANT TO MAKE?
We want a world that celebrates the positive aspects of brain conditions. We want people to know these conditions often come with superpowers – empathy, courage, complex thought. The connection between the admirable and impactful actions of some of our most revered actors, politicians, and artists have made is not despite having a brain condition, but because of it. We believe someone should be proud of having a brain condition.
We also want a world where mental illness is no longer a thing. Where there is no distinction between mental and physical, and all disorders of the brain are categorized as neurological conditions. Where the phrases “I have asthma,” “I have diabetes,” and “I have bipolar” are equally likely to be said without shame and heard without judgment. A world where people have easy access to the care and treatment they need to handle the dangerous and disabling aspects that also come with a brain condition.
WHAT RESOURCES DO YOU NEED TO MAKE THOSE DREAMS COME TRUE?
We are excited about partnering with Project Helping, another nonprofit addressing the same concerns, to become a program of theirs. This will provide many of the administrative and organizational resources that Open Labs needs to be sustainable and continue to make an impact. What would make us more successful is everyone in North America knowing that we exist and that we desire an Open Labs chapter in every major city. When leaders emerge in a community, we are ready to support them in spreading openness and actionable programming for their local members.
WHAT IS (OR HAS BEEN) YOUR BIGGEST CHALLENGE?
Building a community designed for dynamic and diverse minds. There isn’t a playbook yet on how to structure an organization that harnesses the excellence and strength of a neurodiverse membership while overcoming challenges like consistency and communication that often accompany them.
WHAT WORDS OF ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR OTHER LEADERS LOOKING TO MAKE AN IMPACT?
Start with the premise that the impact you want to make is absolutely certain to happen and work your way back from there. It is discouraging at times when your community or organization’s impact isn’t growing as quickly as you’d like. It’s important to remember how significant changing a single life can be.
HOW CAN OTHERS SUPPORT YOU OR YOUR CAUSE?
What would make us more successful is for everyone in North America to know that we exist and that we desire an Open Labs chapter in every major city. When leaders emerge in a community, we are ready to support them in spreading openness and community designed actionable programming for their local members.
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